Centre for Mental Health Systems
NALAM logo

The Banyan’s NALAM project is a multi-interventional model that approaches mental health from a wellness perspective.

In line with the community mental health approach, our NALAM clinics are co-located with and work alongside a range of governmental and non-governmental organisations including Department of Health, Panchayat, Corporation, Colleges, and the State Training and Resource Centre.

NALAM recognises that mental health is not only a medical but a social phenomenon and that good mental health is facilitated and enhanced by one’s positive development in other domains.

Active Registry




Service Access Points


NALAM - Urban

Clinical and social care services for low-income groups in Chennai City

NALAM Urban serves predominantly low-income areas in Chennai City and has cultivated a grassroots presence across all of the wards (Mogappair, Padi, Padiputhunagar, KK Nagar, Jafarkhanpet, West Saidapet, Choolaimedu, Santhome and Teynampet) it works in.

The individuals living in these communities have present with difficulties such as child labor, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism, financial instability etc.

NALAM offers clinical and social care through outpatient clinics and mobilisers  that work across five locations in Chennai.

The mobilisers also conduct awareness programmes and focus groups to improve understanding of mental health issues and identify the needs of the people in the area.

Lay Counselling

In collaboration with Stella Maris College, a Diploma in Lay Counselling has been initiated. We have developed a structured training programme to build capacities to provide emotional support and counselling by training passionate and interested volunteers.


After completing the programme, the trained volunteers can either work in the community or come to a central location at Stella Maris for providing counselling inputs to distressed individuals under supervision of trained mental health professionals like Psychiatrist, Social workers, Psychologist and Psychiatric nurses.

Urban Clinic Timings

NALAM - Rural

Clinical and social care services for low-income groups in the Kancheepuram and Nilgiris Districts

NALAM Rural offers inpatient and outpatient programmes that address clinical and social care needs of individuals in need. The NALAM community mobilisers also engage in innovative mental health awareness programmes across local NGOS, youth groups, PHCs and MGNREGs sites.

Outreach clinics are co-located with Government  run spaces, such as the Government Primary Health Centre, and the Panchayat office. This is in an attempt to work alongside the Government machinery, and support the implementation of the Government District Mental Health Programme (DMHP).

Mobiliser Focus

  • facilitating access to housing
  • welfare entitlements
  • supporting children of parents with mental illness
  • run day care centres
  • skills development and vocational training
  • livelihood and entrepreneurship programmes



Clients Utilizing Services Every Month


New Clients Every Month


Panchayats Covered


Rural Clinic Timings

NALAM Mobilizers

  • Build rapport with community members, especially those who may have a mental illness
  • Provide supportive counselling in different settings
  • Facilitate issue of disability certificates and access to social entitlements (e.g. income-generation activities) for persons with mental illness
  • Initiate innovative programmes in response to the needs of the community

Awareness & Training

Capacity Building Programmes

Develop a group of highly skilled community and government functionaries including ASHA workers, Voluntary Health Nurses (VHN), Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), Nurses and Doctors.

Life Skills Training

Focused on emotional awareness, problem solving, and gender and caste based sensitization for pre-adolescent children.

NALAM Wellness Kiosks

Providing safe spaces and therapeutic services, mentoring and hand-holding support for micro-enterprises, and access to support groups for women (domestic violence, substance use etc.)


Replicating This Approach

The NALAM Approach, was studied in detail through a research trial, supported by Grand Challenges Canada. Multiple civil society organisations and Government agencies across the country have since requested us to capacity build, and support the implementation of the NALAM approach at their sites to test the efficacy and appropriateness of the programme across diverse geographies.

This approach will soon be replicated in collaboration with the Government of Tamil Nadu, as a means to strengthen the existing District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) and improve access to appropriate mental health and social care services.

This programme has served to increase utilization of mental health care services, to reduce stigma and to address challenges faced by the caregivers of individuals with mental health illness.

Outreach : Flood Relief and Recovery

Rehousing for the Irullar Community

The floods in December 2015 due to heavy rains in Tamil Nadu has devastated these villages. Large lakes in the area were created, leading to loss of homes, livestock, possessions and lives. Access to some villages were affected because roads were badly damaged. Many villages were completely submerged.

Identifying the need, The Banyan was quick to react, post floods both in Chennai city and our rural catchment. In collaboration with BALM and TISS,
a rapid assessment of needs was designed and carried out through field visits to these panchayats.


To provide immediate relief to families that were most affected by the floods that sustains them for a period of two weeks until they are able to regain their regular source of daily wages. In order to achieve this goal,
The Banyan‐BALM‐TISS coalition offered relief to 2098 households in Thiruporur block in the weeks following the disaster.

  • Our relief activities were as follows:
    Provision of standard relief kits consisting of provisions, a mat and a blanket
  • Provision of clothes, kitchen kits (vessels, stoves), in areas with extensive loss of possessions and damage
    to homes
  •  Medical camps, basic hygiene products and medicines, in areas with extensive water logging


To facilitate recovery that enables social justice and pathways out of poverty for these marginalized
families. Given the feedback from the rapid assessment that the burden of the disaster was disproportionate on
those already marginalized, our strategy is to focus this two phase effort on the worst affected: Irullas, people living in poor housing conditions and people living with multiple social deprivations (single women headed households,elderly with no support and disability in family).

Housing and assets (mainly livestock) for those worst affected by the floods is a mid‐term priority in the recovery plan.

Data from the survey is being used to direct selection of communities and potential households that will be offered these services.

The Irullar Community

The Thiruporur block is home to roughly 5000 Irullar families who have migrated from the Nilgiris and other
locations about a century ago and settled near agricultural holdings, providing supportive labour such as sowing seeds, aiding with harvest, trapping rats and snakes, felling trees among other odd jobs

Because of their relatively recent entrance into the community, they face a large number of socio‐cultural issues including bonded labour, low literacy levels, discrimination in welfare entitlements, alcoholism, etc.

Although they have lived in the block for at least 50 years, may find it very difficult to acquire land deeds, which is further complicated by the fact that many have occupied forest land.

The Banyan has collaborated with Nivasa

- a Karnataka based NGO with experience in rural and budget housing and with a stated purpose to ‘redefine rural landscapes through culturesensitive, sitedriven, costeffective design and construction in India’.

Asset based approach

Utilizes the resources of the community - both material and skills.

The beneficiaries are involved from the first step, choosing the house design, inputting on their preferences for location, describing their requirements etc. While the majority funding is external, they stamp
their ownership through making their own blocks, aiding in construction and purchasing what is within their means.

Project Cost

₹ 50 Lakh

Cost of 400 Sq.Ft. House

₹ 2.85 Lakh

Cost of 300 Sq.Ft. House

₹ 2.10 Lakh

Total Houses

Housing Project Community Identification
Housing Project Community Identification
Housing Project Community Identification
Housing Project The Banyan Team meets the community on Day 1
NALAM Rural group The Banyan and Nivasa Teams meet the community along with the Panchayat Leader
NALAM Rural Social Map by Community to get to know about their history and resources too!
housing project Finding Resources
housing project Shelter made to protect materials during rainfall
housing project Brick Making Training for the community
housing project Astrologer's consultation
housing project Phase 1 "Pooja" being performed
housing project Blocks for Phase 1 Made!
housing project Phase 1 Foundation
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